Tomorrow we will celebrate a uniquely American holiday: Thanksgiving. Exactly 400 years after Plymouth colonists gathered with native tribes for a three-day thanksgiving celebration, we will gather with family and friends to give thanks. As such, it is the oldest American holiday.
Or is it?
Though subsequent times of thanksgiving occurred, Thanksgiving did not immediately become an annual commemoration or an official American holiday. During the American Revolution, thanksgiving days were commemorated, and George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. John Adams and James Madison also proclaimed official Thanksgiving Days, but it still was not an official holiday.
In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale began a 36-year-long labor of petitioning governors, senators and presidents to establish Thanksgiving as an official American holiday. Finally, in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln heeded her plea and issued a Thanksgiving proclamation, making it an annual commemoration.
Stay tuned tomorrow when we will dig deep into the spiritual roots of America’s Thanksgiving. There is so much more to the holiday than most are aware, and it is important (particularly during these crazy days) to more completely understand the roots of Christianity in America. It will greatly encourage you!
Meanwhile, here is President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation: